OUR TEAM

Where the Passion Begins

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MASTER SANCHEZ

Master Sanchez holds the Rank of 9th Degree Black Belt and has been practicing and teaching martial arts for over 40 years. He teaches private lessons to school owners from Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Mr. Sanchez is an Air Force veteran who reenlisted in the service after 9/11. He taught military personnel on his first and second enlistment. Upon his reenlistment Mr. Sanchez went on to cross train as an Air Force medic. He is also a National Registry Emergency Medical Technician and has studied with the American College Of Sports Medicine. He has designed programs that address the three major components of health and fitness – cardio/respiratory endurance, muscular strength/endurance and range of motion. Mr. Sanchez believes in developing fit, well rounded martial artists.  Master Sanchez partners with Ellington Youth Services bringing martial arts awareness programs to the community.

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AUSTIN SANCHEZ

Bio Coming Soon!

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EDONA SELIMAJ

Edona began her martial arts training at American Karate when she was 9 years old. With hard work and dedication, she currently holds the rank of 3rd Degree Black Belt. Edona's favorite weapon is Nunchaku, and she also loves not only perfecting her sky high kicks, but teaching our students to perfect theirs as well. Edona loves to spend time with her friends, listen to music, and eat good food. Edona loves working with our kids at AK, and watching them grow into amazing martial artists and individuals. 

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NICK GIORDANO

Nick started his journey at American Karate when he was 12 years old, and currently holds the rank of 2nd Degree Black Belt. Nick is a senior at Ellington High School, taking and succeeding in his advanced placement classes. Nick is an outstanding martial artist, focusing on the small details, making him a fantastic technincian. His favorite kicks include, tornado kicks and spinning hook kicks. While not at the school, he enjoys playing video games, working with his 3D printer, and learning how different mechanisms work. He loves educating our students at AK and watching them grow and improve their karate skills. 

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JESSICA PATNOE

Jessica Patnoe has been part of the American Karate family all the way back to East West Karate (Mr. Sanchez’s School in Vernon) since she was 6 or 7 years old, and now her daughter Emmy is also a part of American Karate. She currently works for the Stafford Public Schools system, and is also a part time CNA.  She is beyond excited to be a part of this family and can't wait to see all our students strive and achieve great things. She is eager to share her knowledge and to help in anyway she can.

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SEACHLAN BAILEY

I began my karate training in 2018, receiving my black belt in December of 2021. My favorite weapon is Bo staff. Along with my karate training, I also have background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I am currently a sophomore at Imago Dei Classical Academy a hybrid school, and an active member of Boy Scouts. In my free time I enjoy playing the piano, and learning languages. I am currently studying both Latin and Polish!

EMILY DURHAM

MARISA PARADIS

Emily holds the rank of 4th Degree Black Belt, and is our Program Director at AK. She became an instructor at American Karate in 2007 and taught at the school while studying at UConn, graduating Magna Cum Laude from the university. She then went on to receive her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction in 2013. She taught Social Studies for 5 years before becoming a mom to her two daughters. She is grateful to Master Sanchez and Martial Arts for being a constant throughout all the changes in her life. She credits her achievements to the life lessons that were instilled in her through her training, and looks to share these life lessons and effect change in the lives of others.

Marisa Paradis is excited to be a part of the AK Team and assist families on their karate journeys. She found American Karate a few years ago and is thrilled that her son Ryan is now training under the direction of such an excellent staff. Marisa has been a Theatre and Dance Educator for over 15 years and has a variety of experiences working with students of all ages. Marisa received her BA in Theatre Performance and Dance and her MA in Educational Theatre in New York. She has taught for many years with the NYC Dept of Education, Hartford Public Schools and continues to teach dance and theatre in the after school program at Tolland High School. Beyond education, Marisa has a passion to assist others in becoming their best selves and has her own business, Shakeup Makeup LLC, so she can reach and change more lives through Dance Fitness, Makeup Artistry and Wellness Coaching. She finds so much of her work through her business connects with the teachings of excellence at American Karate. She is thrilled to learn more about karate and enhance the experiences the AK families have here.

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AARUSH KUMAR

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DANNY TARASYUK

Junior Instructors